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Medical Course Options in USA for International Students in 2024

Updated on 20 February, 2024

Shivangi Mishra

Shivangi Mishra

Sr. Content Editor

Medicine in its entirety is a diverse field with several options to choose from in order to be related to the medical field. To pursue traditional medical courses in the USA, students generally participate in a pre-med program which essentially trains scholars in science and laboratory-related coursework in order to pursue a profession in the healthcare or medical field. It is basically a Bachelor’s in Health sciencesand is a prerequisite for an MD (a Medical Doctor’s degree) or a DO (Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine). One can study medicine in the USA only at a postgraduate level.

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Types of Medical Courses in USA

Apart from the above-stated degrees, there are several other options for healthcare courses in the USA for international students. Given below are several fields of medical courses offered in the USA and their basic course brief in order to assist you: 

Doctor of Medicine (MD)

An MD is a postgraduate certification course which lasts 4 years and teaches the graduates key fields of diagnosis, diseases, treatments etc. One must pass their MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) with an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) score of 6.5-7.0 in order to pursue an M.D. in the US. One must have an undergraduate degree BSC in Biology, Chemistry, or Neurology or other medical related subjects. After an M.D. in order to practice medicine in the US one must pass parts 1 and 2 of USMLE (United States Medical Licensing Examination).

Master of Surgery (MS)

Students who complete the three-year professional Master of Surgery programme graduate with a comprehensive understanding of all aspects of surgery. The course covers a wide range of ideas encompassing various surgical techniques for the diagnosis or treatment of the human body. The nuances of human anatomy, microbiology, biochemistry, pathology, etc. are taught to students. The course enables students to undertake clinical and intellectual assessments of therapies and obtain a thorough grasp of difficult operations. There are several specialisation courses under this degree as well like Open Surgery, Laparoscopy, Endoscopy, Arthroscopy, Neurosurgery and Ophthalmological Surgery.

Doctor of Dental Medicine (DDM)

Similar to an MD or MS, DDM requires a bachelor’s degree and to pass the Dental Aptitude Test. The field diversifies itself into Dentists, Endodontists, Orthodontists or Dental Health Specialists.


In order to work as a nurse, one must pursue a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Basic patient care is provided by registered nurses (RNs), who have vital signs. They collaborate with other medical specialists in hospitals, clinics, care facilities, and other settings, such as doctors.

Importance of Healthcare Courses in USA for International Students 

Industry Growth

In the modern world, the healthcare sector in the US is expected to grow. The increase in population and rise in healthcare services demand are the driving forces behind this growth. This is, hence, an overwhelming chance for international students to pursue healthcare studies in the US.

Salary Rise

 Healthcare workers in the United states, particularly the ones in medical sciences, are better paid than medical professionals in third-world countries. The average yearly income for physicians and surgeons is over $208,000. 

Increasing Demand for Healthcare Workers

Increase in chronic diseases, an ageing population, and a scarcity of healthcare workers is expected in the upcoming years. Therefore, opting for medical sciences in the US now might be fruitful.

Career Opportunities

The medical Sciences offer a wide range of career options. Some of the more popular ones are M.D., DDM, D.O. etc.

Better Technology

Medical procedures in the U.S. healthcare system use cutting-edge technologies which are regarded as one of the best in the world. These technologies will be accessible to international students pursuing medical science in the US making them more employable in the future.

Research Opportunities

Conducting research in disciplines including genetics, biotechnology and pharmacology will be done by international students, hence, providing them with better opportunities.

Top Universities Offering Health Science Courses in USA 

UniversityQS World University Rankings by Subject 2023: Life Sciences & MedicineCourse NameTuition (in USD, Latest Info)
Harvard University1MD$69,300/year
Johns Hopkins University3MD$62,850/year
Stanford University4MD$21,781/semester
University of California, San Francisco8MD$57,369/year
University of Pennsylvania17MD$71,935/year
Yale University14MD$35,654/year
Columbia University18MD$136,561/three years
University of Chicago49MD$19,227/semester
 University of Washington16MD$54,336/year
Duke University21MD$63,000/year

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Eligibility and Required Documents for Studying in USA

To be eligible to apply for a medical course in the United States, you generally need to have completed a certain level of education and have certain qualifications. Here are some general requirements for international students:

Educational Qualification

A bachelor’s degree from an accredited institution in any field is required. Prerequisite coursework in biology, physics, chemistry, and math is also required for most MD programs; some may also require additional classes like Organic Chemistry, Genetics and biochemistry.

Entrance Exam

You are generally required to take the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT), which tests your knowledge in subjects like biology, physics, chemistry, and math. Some programs also require other standardized tests such as the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language).

Work Experience

Some programs require a certain amount of healthcare experience. It could be volunteering, shadowing, working as a nursing assistant or EMT, etc.

Letters of Recommendation

Most programs require letters of recommendation from professors, mentors, or healthcare professionals.

Personal Statement/Essay

Some programs require you to write a personal statement/essay as part of your application. The essay is often used to assess your writing skills, and also provides an opportunity for you to explain your motivations and qualifications.

English Proficiency

All international students are required to demonstrate proficiency in the English language, either through TOEFL or IELTS scores, or other English proficiency exams.


International students need to have a valid student visa to study in the United States. This typically involves providing proof of funding, passing a medical examination, and providing fingerprints and a photograph.

Financial Documents

International students are also required to submit proof of funding to cover the cost of their education and living expenses. It could be in the form of bank statements, sponsorship letters, loans, etc.

It’s important to note that these are general requirements, and specific programs may have additional or different requirements. It’s best to check with the individual medical school for their exact admission requirements and ensure you have all the required documents ready before applying.

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Can international students work while studying MD in the USA?

It is possible for international students to work while studying for an MD in the USA, but the rules and regulations vary depending on the student’s visa status.




Can international students apply to MD program after completing their degree from their home country?

Yes, international students can apply to MD programs after completing their degree from their home country, as long as they meet the necessary educational and test score requirements.




Is the USMLE required for the MD program?

The United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) is required for medical students who wish to practice medicine in the USA. USMLE step 1 and step 2 exams are usually taken during the course of the MD program.








Shivangi Mishra

Sr. Content Editor

She is an experienced writer and journalist who has extensively covered the education sector in India and Abroad. Now helping Indian aspirants realise their foreign education dream by providing them with relevant content and information through upGrad Abroad. Amateur traveller, loves to read Architectural Digest!

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